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The Corporate Bonfire: Importance of Stories in Team Management 🔥 - Issue #4

How Remote Works
The Corporate Bonfire: Importance of Stories in Team Management 🔥 - Issue #4
By How Remote Works • Issue #4 • View online
Hi everyone,
Welcome to the fourth bi-weekly newsletter about remote work.
If you missed the previous issues you can check them here:

The Corporate Bonfire 🔥
One of the most interesting management challenges is coordination.
  • Vision: How does my team understand the why?
  • Goals: How does my team know what to do?
  • Mechanics: How does my team know how to do it?
If you can’t answer these questions then your organization is set up for failure.
Today we’ll have a look at how you can avoid the bad dumpster fire and instead channel a good bonfire 🔥
  • Stories over confusion.
  • Narratives over misalignment.
  • Empowerment over failure.
Huddle around and start weaving your narrative.
Huddle around and start weaving your narrative.
Team Members == Vectors ↗
One of the more interesting ideas I learned recently was Elon Musk’s concept of comparing humans to vectors:
Everyone has a direction (goal) and a magnitude (output).
Sounds intuitive enough.
Let’s have a look at how this can be translated into management practice 👇
Art Lapinsch
"Stories let us coordinate across time and space."

IF people are vectors THEN stories are its compass:
1) ⛳️ Direction = Where to?
2) 🚀 Magnitude = How to?

A similar principle is used in remote team leadership 👇
Let’s assume you manage a team of 5 people with average productivity:
  • 🎯 Perfect alignment: Everyone is pointing in the same direction.
  • 💘 Imperfect alignment: Some are pointing in the right direction. Some are not.
  • 🔥 Total misalignment: Everyone is pointing in a different direction.
Now imagine your team is comprised of 10 people.
Now a team of 100.
Now a company of 1000.
Team size is a compounding factor.
Your headcount scales the good, the bad, and the ugly.
As a manager, it is your job to orient your team in the correct direction.
The Power of Stories
Your first goal as a manager should be to align all vectors into the desired direction.
The most effective tool in your tool belt: Stories 📚
Art Lapinsch
Helpful language when thinking about story telling:

📕 Story = A stand-alone story/idea
📚 Narrative = The greater whole comprised of many stories

In the context of remote teams:
🦜 Stories = Codes (rules; goals; etc)
🏴‍☠️ Narrative = Culture (language; habits; identification)
In short: you need consistent story telling to establish a narrative.
“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come…” - Steve Jobs
World Building
If we agree that stories are important to create strong narratives, then you should learn about the concept of World Building🗺
Art Lapinsch
The idea behind strong narratives is to create leverage 🔧

Scale your effort by giving individuals (team members; customers; etc.) a narrative they can participate in.

Decentralization = Scale
Think about the example from above 👆
  • Team of 10
  • Team of 100
  • Company of 1000
  • Company of 10000
World Building becomes more important as your audience gets larger.
After a certain size, your bandwidth becomes the biggest constraint.
World Building allows your team members to own the important narratives themselves and hence:
  • Enable themselves: Have a clear understanding of why/what/how to do their work == reduced management overhead
  • Enable others: Have a clear enough understanding of the organization’s direction to teach others (internal & external audiences) why/what/how to do work == reduced communication overhead
If you are interested in the mechanics/details of World Building check the links below.
Documentation As the Core Building Block of World Building 📒
Art Lapinsch
Documentation is the highest-leverage tool because it provides a narrative within which each team member can participate and execute 📒

This is why it's the highest-leverage tool of remote teams.

"Empower your team and get out of the way."
Documentation is the highest-leverage tool we have used in our remote first company back in the day.
Knowledge transfer is the single most important activity within an organization.
As leaders we documented the following:
  1. 💜 Values/Goals: The direction of our company (= direction = WHY)
  2. ⚙️ Mechanics: The standard operating procedures of our company (= magnitude = HOW)
Equipped with this information, our team was able to execute on their own.
Austin Rief ☕️
Often times your job as CEO is to just get out of people's way.
We provided the building block (= documentation) and got out of their way.
  • 💡 Information becomes documentation
  • 📒 Documentation becomes stories
  • 🗺 Stories become narratives
  • 💪 Narratives empower the organization
Appendix: Email-Based Course about Documentation
Over the past months, I’ve been thinking a lot about documentation and team enablement.
That’s why I’m currently writing an email-based course about this topic.
It’s called “The 80/20 of Remote Team Leadership”
Sign up with your email via this link if you want to receive the first email of the sequence for free 🧐
Thanks for reading this issue 🙏
Let me know if you have any feedback, suggestions, or critique.
Onwards and upwards.
Appendix: Further Reading
If you are particularly curious to jump into the storytelling 🐇 🕳 check these blog posts 👇
Did you enjoy this issue?
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